(USA TODAY) Snow lovers in the eastern U.S. may have to wait until February to see much of the white stuff, according to the 2013-14 winter forecast released Wednesday by private forecasting firm AccuWeather.
At the same time, most of the West will see the opposite weather pattern: A cold and snowy start — which could be good news for drought-plagued California — followed by a warmer end to the winter. Meanwhile, the north-central states should slog through a typically cold and stormy season.
After a couple of shots of chilly air in November, "we should see temperatures in December some 3-4 degrees above average in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic," AccuWeather meteorologist Jack Boston said.
Most of January should also be a bit warmer than average, he said, before the weather turns frigid and snowy in February. Boston predicted that February will be favorable for big snowstorms and nor'easters along the East Coast.
Philadelphia, for instance, which received only 8 inches of snow last year, will likely get higher amounts, AccuWeather predicted.
The Southeast and Gulf Coast will also be warmer than average, Boston said, with some spots in the Tennessee Valley seeing record-breaking warmth in December. However, along with the mild temperatures, there will be a threat for a few bouts of severe storms and the chance of tornadoes.
In the north-central U.S., winter has already paid an early unwelcome early visit: Parts of South Dakota were buried under as much as four feet of snow last week. This is likely a preview of coming attractions, as AccuWeather expects several strong systems that will unleash above-average amounts of snow.
The Northwest and northern Rockies should also see plenty of cold and snow.
California should enjoy some drought relief in December and January, thanks to a prediction of heavy rain and snow. "I think this can definitely alleviate some drought issues," AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. "I think we're going to fill those reservoirs up a little bit."
Mountain snow should also help out ski resorts in California, which have been plagued by a lack of snow the past couple of winters.
The winter, however, should close out on the warm side in the West, as a mild February is predicted.
El Niño, a warming of tropical Pacific Ocean water that's typically one of the major drivers of the USA's winter weather, should be very weak this season, if it forms at all, Boston reported. So it may not be much of a factor.
This winter, other large-scale climate patterns that help guide weather systems around the country will likely play more of a role.